By Dr. Kiran Lohia Last Updated:
Sun rays have long been associated with skin damage. From tanning, burns, darkening, wrinkles to even cancer, sun’s UV rays can prove to be really destructive. One such damage they cause to the skin is freckles.
These are basically brown spots which appear on the face due to prolonged sun exposure. But, their appearance is visible only with age. However, this skin problem can be hereditary as well. Read on to know more about this skin problem and how can it be treated.
Freckles are small brown spots that appear on the face or arms or on the sun-exposed parts of the body. They appear because of the cumulative UV rays exposure for a long period of time. However, they also occur genetically and can appear in children as well.
Typically, appearance of freckles is perfectly normal, and not dangerous at all. However, if you notice a freckle changing in shape or size, then it is important to show it to your dermatologist. He or she will check for any possible skin malignancy (a tumor or a cancer).
The only way to prevent freckles is to avoid getting out in the sun. Sun rays are the biggest cause of freckles, so you need to protect yourself from them. Avoid the sun between the 10 AM-3 PM. And, if at all you want to go out, cover exposed areas as much as possible and wear a sunblock cream. Look for a sunscreen with at least SPF 30+ with both UVA and UVB protection, and remember to apply it every four hours. Also, apply it at least 30 minutes before leaving your house, so that it has penetrated well.
Freckles are typically very resistant to treatment. But luckily, now there are many ways to manage them. A dermatologist will suggest you several treatments for your freckles. Take a look at a few of them:
Bleaching creams containing compunds such as alpha-arbutin, hydroquinone, glycolic acid and tretinoin are somewhat effective in reducing the freckles. However, their effect is limited, so do not expect dramatic results from these simple creams!
Chemical peels use higher percentage of glycolic or lactic acid to get a better effect than bleaching creams for your freckles. They are typically done every ten days for around 6-10 sessions, depending on your skin. Dermatologists also recommend bleaching creams along with the peels for improved results. Side effects are usually limited to a little bit of redness. But, make sure you do not neglect your sunblock with these creams.
Laser resurfacing is highly effective for removing excess pigments, as they gently exfoliate the darkened skin layers. This method can remove your freckles quicker than traditional remedies.
Intense Pulsed Light or IPL is a broad-spectrum light that gently targets the pigments or melanin in your skin without any side effects. You need around 10 sessions to get an optimal result. And, as an extra benefit, your skin will look rejuvenated, giving you a lovely natural glow.
The Q-switched laser is a newer modality that has been proven to selectively target melanin, causing specific destruction of only your freckles. Within 2-3 sessions, you can get your desired results. However, after this treatment, you may find some redness and crusting, but this usually resolves after a few days.
It is always advised to look for precautions before the problem actually occurs. And, remember do not step out of your house without using a sunblock!
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